Each year, teams of MBA students across degree programs, focus their capstone project on advancing pro-social causes outside the United States. The Center for Global Management provides funding to support primary research for these projects.
Whether evaluating new models for microfinance, improving global supply chain efficiency, or bringing affordable internet access to rural communities, our global pro-social projects make a real, immediate and often profound impact.
Recent projects have focused on education, global health, trade, environmental conservation and preservation, social entrepreneurship, international labor rights, empowering low income women and eradicating rural poverty.
Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural South Africa
(Human Sciences Research Council, SOUTH AFRICA)
Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural South Africa (Human Sciences Research Council, SOUTH AFRICA)
The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) is Africa's largest dedicated social science and humanities research agency and policy think tank, with the mission to advance social sciences and humanities for public use, inform public policy and help to build capacity and infrastructure. In South Africa, poverty and inequality are illustrated in a multitude of ways, including through the “digital divide,” the gap between higher- and lower-income communities’ mobile and internet access. The HSRC engaged the AMR team to identify a viable long-term solution to increase affordable data access to the impoverished rural community of Sweetwaters, South Africa, and in turn help to better understand barriers to entry of mHealth applications and expand on the community network model and Wi-Fi hotspot solutions identified by last year’s AMR team.
The team traveled to South Africa twice and visited Johannesburg, Sweetwaters and Cape Town: first, to conduct a landscape analysis to better understand the local context and develop an understanding of the digital divide and rural connectivity model and second, to develop an implementation strategy. On the first visit, they met with major telecom providers to hear their perspectives on the affordability issue and understand their initiatives that target the economically disadvantaged communities. Students also conducted interviews with nonprofits with an interest in alternative connectivity solutions, with subject-matter experts and with members of the local Sweetwaters community. The team determined that access must first be enabled through coverage and affordability, which in turn would allow users to build digital literacy and habits of usage. While there were many major players across the country, they concluded that Sweetwaters would be better served by seeking out an alternative model for increasing affordability of internet access, namely public Wi-Fi.
The second visit allowed the team to conduct further research and analysis to develop and refine the implementation strategy. Interviews were conducted with the implementation partner to understand operations and pricing models and identify benchmarks for a recommended financial model. The team also visited the TV white space trial site near Sweetwaters and held numerous meetings with members of the Sweetwaters community to understand the customer purchase journey and potential barriers to successful implementation of public Wi-Fi. The team’s findings identified a five-year, two-phase approach for implementation of a public Wi-Fi system using TV white space as its backend infrastructure, which they determined was the most promising solution to deliver affordable mobile data access due to its ability to serve a wide and varied geographical area. The first, proof-of-concept phase would deploy a limited number of Wi-Fi hotspots, using readily available 5.8 GHz technology for backhaul, to capture specific performance measures to inform financial and operational models as well as clarify risks and mitigation before implementing a wider rollout to the rest of the community. Execution of the recommendation will require an implementation partner and grant support.
The team was the recipient of the 2020 Impact Alumni Award, which recognizes MBA student teams that have excelled at making the greatest impact on their mission-driven client’s project through the course of the AMR program. This was the fifth year that the CGM collaborated with the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and supported a field study team to work with the HSRC.
Full-time MBA Class of 2020 students (from left to right) Connie Jiang, Pitcha Leelapornpisid and Spencer Feliciano-Lyons met with major telecom providers in South Africa, including Vodacom.
Students met with client Alastair van Herdeen (far right), senior research specialist at HSRC, and Xolani Qwabe, field coordinator for HSRC, to learn about the telecom sector and other community network initiatives in South Africa.
In Sweetwaters, teammate Justin Pruttivarasin interviewed local businesses to better understand their internet usage.
Teammate Stephanie Hong interviewed members of the local Sweetwaters community.
At an internet café in a peri-urban community adjacent to Sweetwaters, students interviewed a business owner for his perspective on the local community’s internet usage behavior.
Developing a Go-to-Market Strategy to Export Sustainably Sourced Yellowfin Tuna to the U.S.
(Charles Darwin Foundation, ECUADOR)
Developing a Go-to-Market Strategy to Export Sustainably Sourced Yellowfin Tuna to the U.S. (Charles Darwin Foundation, ECUADOR)
Founded over 60 years ago under the auspices of UNESCO and the World Conservation Union, the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) conducts scientific research and promotes environmental education and conservation of the Galapagos Islands. One of its partners, Galapagos Uno Por Uno (GUPU), aims to use market incentives to prevent illegal commercial fishing techniques to reduce the impact on the marine ecosystem and improve the lives of local fishermen. The CDF identified major social and environmental issues in the archipelago. These included the presence of a monopsony in the export of yellowfin tuna from the islands, meaning a single buyer substantially controls the purchase of the tuna being exported through a local fishing cooperative. This has resulted in below-market prices for years and has in turn caused overfishing and the continued use of longlining, a commercial fishing technique that although outlawed continues to be practiced. In an effort to incentivize fisherman to comply with more sustainable fishing techniques, GUPU aimed to explore the viability of creating a more valuable “sustainably sourced” product and in turn pass that additional value down to the fishermen who comply with regulations. The CDF retained the AMR team to assist GUPU and develop a go-to-market strategy to identify markets’ willingness to pay a premium for more sustainably sourced yellowfin tuna and to evaluate alternative markets, such as selling locally on the islands or in Ecuador’s mainland, or ultimately exporting to the United States.
In addition to completing close to 100 hours of secondary research to better understand the market, including global trends, competition, consumer behaviors and substitute products, it was important for the team to travel to Ecuador to interview key stakeholders and gain a better understanding of market demand, supply chain considerations, sourcing and regulatory issues. Students interviewed potential buyers in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, as well as tuna exporters in the port cities of Guayaquil and Manta. They also met with local fisherman to better understand both the social and environmental impacts of current fishing practices as well as gauge awareness of the benefits of more sustainable fishing techniques. Primary field research helped crystallize the immediate issues plaguing the fishing industry, and a number of important findings came to light around the current environment of the tuna industry in the islands, the quality of the tuna produced by the fishery and potential target markets, which led to some key recommendations. The team proposed starting locally, and identified the importance of establishing relationships, partners and trust before shipping to Ecuador’s mainland and its high-end restaurants. Once packaging and shipping processes were refined, only then should operations be expanded to the U.S. market. The team ultimately developed a strategy for GUPU that included a four-phase approach that would encourage sustainable sourcing and improve price stability.
The AMR team with members of CDF at their offices in Santa Cruz, Galapagos.
(From left to right) Pelayo Salinas, senior marine ecologist at the CDF; Fumiaki Kobayashi (’20); Cesar Viteri, senior economist at the CDF; and Jorge Ramirez, senior fisheries scientist at the CDF, with 2020 FTMBA students Tomas Icaza, Marcelo Nacrur, Zach Clegg and Santiago Iglesias.
Fumiaki Kobayashi (’20).
Marcelo Nacrur (’20) visited a local packaging facility on San Cristobal Island and met with Daisy Vera, head of administration of COPESAN, a local fishing cooperative.
Students interviewed fishermen on Santa Cruz Island, where Santiago Iglesias (’20) was given a fresh tuna to hold by one of his fisherman interviewees.
Students interviewed leaders of COPROPAG, the main fishing cooperative on Santa Cruz Island, where they discussed the viability of a commercial partnership.
Building Socially Responsible Businesses That Create Economic Mobility and Help Alleviate Global Poverty
Building Socially Responsible Businesses That Create Economic Mobility and Help Alleviate Global Poverty (rise, RWANDA)
The Business Creation Option (BCO), an alternative to AMR, is a master’s thesis track in which students combine their entrepreneurial talents with significant primary and secondary research to launch a business. With the strong belief that business can and should be a driver of social good, the BCO team set out on an ambitious journey to understand how to build a socially responsible business driven by the triple-bottom-line impact of people, planet and profit to create economic mobility in communities living in poverty globally. After successful completion of the two prerequisite courses, Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation and Business Plan Development, the team prepared a business plan to launch rise, a premium, environmentally friendly candle company that would train and pay a living wage to its employees. Its product would be responsibly sourced, and its business model would require very little infrastructure, minimal capital investment and unskilled workers, which would ultimately create social impact and alleviate poverty at scale.
Students determined that Rwanda would be the most appropriate country to launch the product, based on its burgeoning ecosystem of effective social enterprises, a government that encourages foreign investment and perceived consumer demand, as well as the team’s network in the country. Following an initial visit to its capital, Kigali, in the summer of 2019, the team further assessed the market opportunity. During the fall and winter quarters, students continued to conduct extensive primary and secondary research to understand sales and marketing channels and the global supply chain, as well as explore product design and social impact employment issues. Via WhatsApp and Skype calls, they conducted interviews with an extensive range of industry experts, including candle-makers, sustainability professionals and international development leaders in Africa, which helped the team to select a beachhead market for launch, conscious millennial consumers who care not just about the quality of the products they use, but also how their purchases impact the environment and social good.
In January, the students returned to Kigali as and visited the rural communities of Kayonza and Rwamagana to better understand the local landscape, best practices for starting a social enterprise and potential employment pipelines. They met with a wide range of stakeholders, including nonprofit leaders from organizations such as Centre Marembo, Komera and Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village; social impact experts, including MasterCard Foundation’s Hanga Ahazaza; and social enterprises with ecological and sourcing expertise. They interviewed transportation companies and local suppliers of wax, fragrance oils and containers to explore sourcing, logistics and distribution channels; assess existing infrastructure; and better understand import/export challenges. They also conducted focus groups with the target consumer segment, millennials, to further assess market demand for the product, social media platforms and brand differentiation.
After graduation, the students who were finalists for the Entrepreneurial Excellence Capstone Award are excited to continue to build out the business and release lines of rise candles, each line with a fragrance unique to or evocative of a different developing country. The team’s ultimate goal is to shift production from the U.S. to overseas and further generate employment opportunities and empower communities living in extreme poverty. In the meantime, with each country line released, a percentage of profits will be donated to well-vetted nonprofit partners in that particular country. As founder and chief candle officer of rise, Jessica Yi, from the full-time MBA Class of 2020, will continue to oversee the strategic direction, operations and management of the brand.
In Kigali, students met with Marie Claire Dushimumukiza (far left), senior consultant at Howath HTL and coordinator of the MasterCard Foundation’s Hanga Ahazaza project, a five-year initiative focused on increasing youth employment opportunities in Rwanda. (From left to right) Class of 2020 students Sara Matthew, Jessica Yi and Emily Bestwick.
Students visited Centre Marembo, the only all-female shelter in Rwanda that provides services to young girls who have experienced trauma, violence and homelessness, where they interviewed its leadership team.
Students were taken on a tour of Centre Marembo by its founder and executive director, Nicolette Nsabimana. The Centre provides the space, education and business tools for its young women to gain employment through arts and crafts, agriculture and clothing.
Students also interviewed Caroline Numuhire from the Segal Family Foundation, who provided insights into the social enterprise and social impact landscape in Rwanda. The Segal Family Foundation has an explicit focus on sub-Saharan Africa and has launched a social impact incubator in Rwanda.
Achieving a Sustainable Rubber Value Chain to Reduce Deforestation in Indonesia
(Conservation International, SOUTHEAST ASIA)
Achieving a Sustainable Rubber Value Chain to Reduce Deforestation in Indonesia (Conservation International, SOUTHEAST ASIA)
Conservation International (CI) is a global nonprofit organization that seeks to advocate for, improve and protect nature for the betterment of society. Given its climate and soil, Southeast Asia has become the primary target to grow and produce rubber, accounting for 90 percent of total natural rubber production. Demand is expected to continue to grow as developing nations become more industrialized and there is increased demand for automobiles. However, tire and auto manufacturers have committed to making the natural rubber production process more sustainable.
CI retained an Anderson AMR team to develop a strategic plan for how the organization can best engage critical stakeholders in the natural rubber value chain to effect change in Indonesia and reduce the damaging impact of deforestation in the production, processing and distribution of natural rubber. The plan focused on early segments of the value chain: farmers who cultivate raw materials and natural rubber, tire manufacturers and distributors. While conducting field research, the team discovered that deforestation in Indonesia is actually a symptom of a much more urgent humanitarian issue concerning the unsustainable livelihoods of natural rubber farmers.
After several weeks of extensive secondary research, the team traveled to Singapore and Indonesia to conduct their primary research. Students visited the CI offices in Singapore and Jakarta and conducted numerous interviews in both countries with organizations across the rubber value chain, including global tire manufacturers, global rubber processors, a multinational consumer goods corporation and NGOs engaged in natural rubber initiatives in the region. The time spent in Jakarta was instrumental in acquiring a more holistic picture of the socioeconomic issues faced by rubber smallholders and the ongoing humanitarian efforts by various stakeholders to supply educational, communication and bargaining tools to farmers in the region. Students also traveled to West Kalimantan, a province in the southern Indonesian section of Borneo, where they interviewed various natural rubber smallholders, middle men and plantation owners to better understand the challenges the industry faces in making the natural rubber production process more sustainable, and the need for immediate action to assist Indonesian rubber farmers. Students visited rubber forests and rubber factories to observe the natural rubber cleaning, drying and production process.
Primary field research helped crystalize the immediate issues plaguing the natural rubber industry and Indonesia generally. For example, natural rubber prices often do not reflect the true supply and demand of rubber, and low prices make it nearly impossible for Indonesian smallholders to earn a sustainable living from the commodity. Through in-depth research and findings, the team provided CI with a strategy to encourage sustainable production practices and improve price stability. They made recommendations as to how CI can structure its organization, resources and human capital to achieve the most effective change.
The team was a finalist for the Social Impact Alumni Award, which recognizes MBA student teams that have excelled at making the greatest impact on their mission-driven client’s project through the course of the AMR program.
Full-time MBA Class of 2019 students Carolyn Wright (center) and Jorge Santana (right) met with Nassat Idris, senior director of Conservation International’s Terrestrial Program at CI’s office in Jakarta.
Carolyn Wright (far right) with Class of 2019 teammates Toan Tran (second from left) and Kirk Kusonruska visited a processor’s rubber factory outside of Pontianak, Indonesia, where they met with Pak Hendry (far left), quality assurance manager at Halcyon Agri, a leading global rubber franchise.
At the factory outside Pontianak, Indonesia, the team walked among drying rubber.
In West Kalimantan, Indonesia, Mr. Suchon, a rubber plantation owner, demonstrated how to tap a rubber tree. Left to right: Toan Tran (’19), Pak Hendry, quality assurance manager at Halcyon Agri, Mr. Sak Jung, an Indonesian rubber farmer, and Kirk Kusonruksa (’19).
Teammate Jorge Santana (’19) visited a rubber drying factory in West Kalimantan.
Right to left: Class of 2019’s Jorge Santana, Toan Tran and Kirk Kusonruksa met with rubber smallholders and traders during their visit to West Kalimantan.
Expanding Microfinance Capabilities in Rural Areas of Peru and Empowering the Peruvian Woman through Microfinance
Expanding Microfinance Capabilities in Rural Areas of Peru and Empowering the Peruvian Woman through Microfinance (FINCA, PERU)
FINCA Peru is a nonprofit microfinance institution that provides credit to small business owners and farmers in urban and rural Peru via a village banking model. Eighty-seven percent of its clients are women who run small businesses or farms. FINCA Peru’s Zonas Rurales unit has operated in the rural areas of Peru since 2006, but has struggled to break even amid the high fixed costs of its operations. To sustain its operations, Zonas Rurales receives subsidies from FINCA Peru’s more profitable urban operating units and must access outside capital at a high cost. However, the organization cannot depend on such subsidies indefinitely. To address the breakeven challenge, Zonas Rurales implemented a pilot program with the aim to grow the loan portfolio via an expanded loan product offering and operational changes.
FINCA Peru engaged the Anderson AMR team to develop a strategy to reach financial sustainability and maintain its presence in rural Peru. The team was asked to evaluate the performance of the pilot, recommend improvements and provide guidance to implement the pilot in all rural areas of FINCA Peru’s operations.
To complement the team’s secondary research, it was important they travel to Peru to interview key stakeholders and gain a better understanding of the microfinance environment in the country, FINCA Peru’s business model and Zonas Rurales’ recent pilot program. In Peru, students visited 16 village banks, conducted over 150 client interviews and spoke with many staff members, which helped to deepen their knowledge of the village banking model as well as FINCA Peru’s value chain and operations, and provided important insights into both the challenges and opportunities for the organization. The research led students to the realization that the breakeven goal was just as important to FINCA Peru as its mission to deliver social services to underserved clients.
The team developed a methodology to test whether the pilot had been successful in terms of breakeven and client satisfaction with services provided by FINCA Peru. As a result of the students’ primary research, a number of important findings came to light and led to some key recommendations. Through implementation of the team’s recommendations, FINCA Peru will meet its goals of breaking even and increasing client satisfaction. Zonas Rurales will also be able to ensure its sustainability and further its mission of empowering the Peruvian woman, her family and her community.
The team was a finalist for the Social Impact Alumni Award, which recognizes MBA student teams that have excelled at making the greatest impact on their mission-driven client’s project through the course of the AMR program.
Full-time MBA Class of 2019 students Sweksha Tripathi (back row, far left) and Elizabeth Heredia (back row, second from right), together with FINCA employee Marlene Ramos (back row, far right), interviewed women at the Los Halcones village bank in the central Peruvian region of Huancavelica.
Elizabeth Heredia (’19) (third from right) led a focus group at the Miraflores village bank in the central Peruvian region of Huancavelica.
Class of 2019 teammates Ballard Metcalfe (far left), Ariel Wang (second from right) and Cris Erdtsieck (far right) met with members of the Luz Brilliante village bank.
Ballard Metcalfe (’19) and Ariel Wang (’19) conducted interviews with clients in the Santa Rosa Siclo village bank in the central Peruvian region of Huancavelica.
In Ayacucho, the team conducted a full day of interviews at FINCA Peru’s rural headquarters.
The students joined Derek Visser (far right), FINCA Peru’s director of rural zones, at the March Against Violence Against Women, organized annually by FINCA in Ayacucho.
The students joined Derek Visser (far right), FINCA Peru’s director of rural zones, at the March Against Violence
Bringing Affordable Internet Access to the Sweetwaters Community in South Africa
(Human Sciences Research Council, SOUTH AFRICA)
Bringing Affordable Internet Access to the Sweetwaters Community in South Africa (Human Sciences Research Council, SOUTH AFRICA)
The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) is a not-for-profit research organization that conducts large-scale social projects that contribute to the development goals of South Africa and the African continent. Established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency, HSRC has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities in Africa, informing public policy and helping to build capacity and infrastructure. In South Africa, poverty and inequality are illustrated in a multitude of ways, including through the “digital divide,” the gap between higher- and lower-income communities’ mobile and internet access. HSRC engaged the AMR team to conduct a feasibility study into whether alternative business and/or technology models could be implemented to provide affordable internet access in the community of Sweetwaters, South Africa.
To support the team’s secondary research into regional and global alternative internet solutions, students traveled to South Africa for two eight-day research trips to understand the local context, and traveled to Spain to learn from exemplary case studies internationally. In Sweetwaters, students conducted interviews with HSRC staff, community liaisons, local businesses and community members and also held focus groups with consumers and local business owners. The purpose of this research was to understand consumer demand for internet services, the community infrastructure and the willingness to participate in the funding, set-up and operational phases of an alternative internet solution. To understand comparable best practices and opportunities for partnerships, students met with industry and regional experts from major telecoms, technology startups and nonprofit organizations with an interest in alternative connectivity solutions.
After ascertaining the needs of the Sweetwaters community and conducting research around best practices for a variety of global solutions, the team tested the concepts of their proposed business models and the appetite of the local community to participate in a potential solution. Students also evaluated the many global examples of alternative internet solutions for low-income or underserved populations based on the ease and cost of implementation, as well as the solutions’ compatibility with the preferences of the community and the resources of HSRC. The team’s findings culminated in a short-term partial solution in conjunction with a second, long-term complete solution. Both recommendations require the HSRC to partner with outside organizations in order to gain access to the technological and financial resources necessary to deploy a solution. To validate the financial feasibility of these recommendations, students analyzed the capital and operational expenditure that would be required for both short- and long-term solutions to break even and achieve financial sustainability.
In December, full-time MBA Class of 2019 students Jasmine Guo (second from left) and Miranda Proctor (far right) conducted interviews with members of the Sweetwaters community to gather metrics on data and voice usage, current expenditures and user preferences.
Class of 2019 teammate Maximiano Moncada (third from right) joined for additional meetings with members of the Sweetwaters community to continue to gather metrics.
Students met with client Alastair van Herdeen (second from left), senior research specialist at HSRC, and Bill Tucker (second from right), a professor at University of the Western Cape, to learn about the telecom sector and other community network initiatives in South Africa.
In January, Class of 2019 teammates Guillermo Fraile Diaz and Amba Gujral traveled to South Africa on a second research trip. They visited the Johannesburg headquarters of MTN Group, an emerging market mobile operator at the forefront of technological and digital changes, to understand the corporate social responsibility initiatives that MTN is bringing to low-income communities in terms of affordable connectivity.
Together with the team’s Sweetwaters community liaison, Lungisane Ntuli (far right), Guillermo Fraile Diaz (’19) and Amba Gujral (’19) talked with owners of many small and medium-sized enterprises, such as a carwash business that could potentially host and sell Wi-Fi services to the local community.
Measuring the housing density of the Sweetwaters community was key to understanding the ideal technological solution for the community.
Guillermo Fraile Diaz (’19) and Amba Gujral (’19) interviewed a group of 18-to-30-year-old community members to gauge their interest in potential Wi-Fi services and understand their vision and expectations of such services.
Students visited other townships, such as Soweto in Johannesburg’s low-income area, to understand the living conditions and struggles of local communities and how they access basic services.